UPDATE 4/2/12 @ 7:05 p.m.
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A slew of arrests in just a matter of days has St. Albans Police looking forward to the future. The department's new bike patrol rolled out for the first time last week.
Neighbors tell WSAZ.com they aren't expecting to see officers on bikes pulling them over, catching them by surprise.
It's a change of pace for officers and an opportunity to get a leg up on parts of the city that are just unreachable by car.
"We didn't invent the wheel here, we copied other departments," Chief Michael Matthews said. "They seem to have good success with it."
Matthews added, "These bikes, they're going to be out at night when they're not going to see us coming, they're not going to hear us."
Even officers say they were skeptical at first, but now wheels are turning and touting the program's early success.
"Definitely did not want to come out here and ride a bicycle instead of being in my comfy car," Patrolman Kenneth Davis said. "But we're catching people that we never could before, and anytime we can take bad people off the street and protect people -- it's a great feeling."
Davis put on his utility belt, gloves and helmet Monday in preparation to hit the streets. He's just one of the patrolman who spends some of his shift on a bicycle.
It's success all the way around as officers keep fit, fight crime and get to know neighbors from a closer perspective.
But they've already gone the distance and learned to adapt to their surroundings. Within two hours of Davis' first shift, sounds of screaming led officers to a dispute and ultimately an arrest. It happened in the 2300 block of Grant Avenue about 9 p.m. Friday.
Police say Jameson Edwards, 24, had a bag of prescription pills, including more than one dozen Xanax pills and a Lortab. He was also found carrying a concealed weapon -- a loaded revolver hidden in his waistband. Police found out Monday the gun was reported stolen. Edwards has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and possession of controlled substances.
Officers say DUI arrests and other traffic stops are a testament to the program's early success.
The program is funded through money that's normally designated for overtime pay. It's just one of several new initiatives St. Albans Police plan to roll out to clean up the streets.
This is just the first big update under the new chief. This summer, the department plans to start a street crime unit to deal with a growing drug problem.
Friday night, two officers were riding in the 2300 block of Grant Avenue about 9 p.m. when they heard a man and woman screaming at each other. Officers rode up to find the couple fighting. When they separated the two, they found the man was carrying a loaded gun.
Officers arrested Jameson Edwards. They say when they searched him, they also found a bag of prescription pills believed to be Xanax. Police charged Edwards with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, and possession of a controlled substance.
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